This weekend marks the start of Pride in the U.S., with festivals, parades, and parties celebrating LGBTQ+ diversity around the country. This year commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, and as such, New York City is poised to be the host of WorldPride 2019. New York Pride is quite the to-do on any given year, and with the international spotlight on the Big Apple, it is expected that crowds will swell to four million for the upcoming parade. That being said, there is an array of activities and events catering to all types of LGBTQ+ travelers throughout WorldPride and the month of June. Fortunately, we’ve done the legwork for you. Read on for our guide to WorldPride 2019 in New York City and make the most of America’s largest Pride bash to date.
Where to Stay for WorldPride 2019
Given that the Pride March is the most packed WorldPride event, it is advisable to choose accommodations near the 2019 route. Being able to pop back to your room for a disco nap or wardrobe change will allow you to enjoy the bedlam worry-free. Situated in the Flatiron District, the boutique Paul Hotel is an ideal base for exploring the city while also granting easy access to the parade route. The property’s rooftop bar, which offers unobstructed views of the nearby Empire State Building, is the perfect spot for a romantic nightcap or getting the evening started. Meanwhile, The Jane Hotel, known for its trendy ground-level bar, also delivers affordable accommodations in the West Village. An added bonus: The property is a mere five-minute walk from Christopher Street and the Stonewall Inn. The Hilton New York Fashion District Hotel provides comfort, style, and a convenient location near the Pride parade’s end point at Seventh avenue and 23rd Street. Additionally, the Flatiron District is adjacent to Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen -- two of the city’s top LGBTQ+ neighborhoods. The James New York, an official sponsor of WorldPride, will kick off the festivities with an exclusive, open-to-the-public Stonewall art exhibit in its lobby. Later in the month, the NoMad hotel will also host its own drag queen makeover event to benefit the Stonewall Community Foundation.
The History of WorldPride
What is WorldPride? In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, police raided an unlicensed West Village bar in lower Manhattan -- The Stonewall Inn. Although such raids and harsh treatment were tragically routine, the Stonewall patrons dug their heels in and fought back against police brutality. In the nights following, crowds in the thousands gathered along Christopher Street in solidarity. Exactly one year later, activists and the New York LGBTQ+ community commemorated the uprising by marching from Christopher Street to Central Park. This year marks the 50th anniversary, prompting New York City’s selection for the WorldPride location. WorldPride is put on by InterPride, an international organization that coordinates Pride events globally. WorldPride events have been staged periodically, since the initial 2000 event in Rome, with Copenhagen and Malmö set to co-host the event in 2021.
WorldPride Events and Celebrations
Several WorldPride events require tickets, including the opening ceremony, which will be hosted by Whoopi Goldberg and include performances by Billy Porter, Chaka Khan, and Cyndi Lauper. Another major event: Pride Island, which features an all-weekend lineup of queer musicians and icons, including Grace Jones, Kim Petras, and Brazilian drag queen, Pabllo Vittar. If you can manage to scalp tickets, this dance party at Pier 97 won’t disappoint. The WorldPride closing ceremony features a comparable star-studded lineup, including Melissa Etheridge and MNEK. Though the free tickets were snagged, early admission is still available for this Times Square performance.
There is an after-party catering to every preference across the city. Teaze, a women’s dance party, is slated for the evening of June 29 at the DL on the Lower East Side. Uptown, at Terminal 5, international DJs provide beats for the OneWorld Tea Dance. Terminal 5 will also host the massive closing party -- Matinee Pervert.
NYC Pride veterans and newbies, take note: The Pride March on June 30 has been rerouted from its traditional path. Starting at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 26th Street, performers and floats will make their way south toward Christopher Street and Sixth Avenue before circling back north along Seventh Avenue to 23rd Street in Chelsea.
Art Exhibitions, Performances, and New York’s Oldest Gay Bar
Although Pride is typically characterized by over-the-top performances, vibrant and revealing costumes, and late-night parties, there is more to New York Pride and WorldPride than the mayhem and revelry in the streets. Dive deeper into the tumultuous history and activism leading up to the Stonewall Uprising at the Museum of the City of New York. Here, you’ll find a series of photos by Fred W. McDarrah, a former photographer for The Village Voice, which include shots of the Stonewall Uprising, Pride parades in the 1970s, and portraits of LGBTQ+ leaders and activists from the same era. Be sure to check out one of the “Art After Stonewall” exhibits as well. The exhibition spans the Leslie-Lohman Museum, the Grey Art Gallery, the Brooklyn Museum, and the New-York Historical Society. The Metropolitan Museum will be doing its part to represent New York Pride through a vogueing competition on June 11 on its grand Fifth Avenue steps. The event will be judged by Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour. Expect to see some of the fiercest performers from New York’s ballroom scene.
Many LGBTQ+ communities around the world are still entrenched in the struggle for their right to exist. The National Queer Theater will showcase LGBTQ-oriented plays from China, Egypt, Pakistan, and Tanzania as part of the Criminal Queerness Festival. The series will run from June 13 through July 6, and offer insight into LGBTQ+ culture and pride in often-overlooked corners of the globe.
The site of the Stonewall Uprising -- The Stonewall Inn -- remains in operation as a thriving gay bar today. Visiting this historic establishment and paying respect to the activists and LGBTQ+ community who fought hard for progress is a must. However, the bar will certainly be jam-packed throughout Pride, making Julius on West 10th Street a worthwhile pit stop in the West Village. The venue has been frequented by LGBTQ+ clientele since the 1950s and has its own history with protest. In 1966, a group of activists from the Mattachine Society staged a “sip in” to demonstrate against a law threatening to revoke liquor licenses from any bar serving openly gay individuals. Today, Julius honors these men through their monthly Mattachine parties.
Under-the-Radar Marches and Parades
A handful of other notable parades are set for June as well. Head to Coney Island on June 22 for the 36th Mermaid Parade, where thousands gather in DIY costumes of glitter and sequins for an under-the-sea extravaganza. The 1 p.m. parade is followed by the Mermaid Ball, which includes burlesque, live music, and a sea lion performance. Brooklyn has scheduled its march for June 8 at dusk and will follow Fifth Avenue through charming Park Slope. Just north of the Pride March route, the Dyke March will kick off at 5 p.m. on June 29 in Bryant Park. The event organizers respectfully ask that allies show their support from the sidewalk during the march.
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